Sedans & Coupes

The 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe Is a Big Disappointment

The 2020 M235i xDrive Gran Coupe is BMW’s high-performance version of the four-door, 2 Series Gran Coupe (228i xDrive). As one of BMW’s most-recent debuts, the sports car world and BMW fans alike waited with anticipation. But the confusing BMW M235i xDrive may be getting more attention in the way of raised eyebrows than impressed reviews. Some are even wondering why it’s being considered a 2 Series coupe or sports sedan at all.

The 2020 BMW M235i: is it even a 2 Series?

The BMW 2 Series Coupe comes with an obvious two doors, which makes the 2 Series Gran Coupe (including the M235i) even more confusing. The M235i has four doors instead of two, which would obviously make it a sedan. So how can it be a 2 Series?

Regardless of whether BMW puts a “Gran” in front of it or not, the 228i and M235i Gran Coupes are not like their 2 Series Coupe siblings. Although its name indicates it is part of the 2 Series, its non-coupe nature isn’t the only thing that brings that into question.

According to MotorTrend, both the 2 Series M235i and base 228i Gran Coupe are even farther from its 2 Series heritage when you look beyond the nameplate. Unlike the 2 Series Coupe, the M235i is built off the same platform BMW uses for its X2 crossover SUV, making it more of a crossover than a sport sedan or coupe.

This platform also means the 2 Series Gran Coupe models only receive all-wheel drive (xDrive). This goes against the 2 Series tradition of offering both rear-wheel and all-wheel drivetrains. In fact, the 2 Series’ rear-wheel drive has been praised for its balanced handling and steering. Between its name, build, and performance, it seems the BMW M235i xDrive can’t decide whether it’s a coupe, sports sedan, crossover SUV, or whether it even belongs in the 2 Series family.

The M235i falls short of expectations

Expectations for the high-performing 2020 BMW M235i xDrive were extremely high. According to Automobile Magazine, however, its “convoluted nature and confused identity dominates the driving experience” enough to make the M235i xDrive Gran Coupe a real disappointment. Its crossover platform does nothing for the M235i visually, adding a muscular aesthetic that looks disproportional, especially for a proper sports car. Control and performance typically found in the 2 Series are lost with the Gran Coupe sedan.

The unattractive platform carries through to the M235i xDrive’s performance and handling dynamics as well. Riding in the M235i is stiff and “punishing,” with a transmission that seems improperly tuned, as its quick-shifting interrupts power delivery as well as acceleration.

The power and torque delivered by the higher-performance M division are up to par at least. The M235i xDrive Gran Coupe comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes a potent 301 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Quick and powerful off the line, the M235i is “explosive” and “befitting of a pocket rocket.” Its interior also matches the class you’d expect from both BMW and its M division, boasting a stylish and luxurious cabin, as well as comfortable, supportive seats.

Are there any good high-performance alternatives to the BMW M235i?

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The 2020 M235i xDrive certainly isn’t a bad car, but combine its so-so performance with a base price of more than $46,000, and its value seems to dwindle. Even Car and Driver experts, who give the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe an overall rating of 8/10, say that it “doesn’t live up to its BMW badge.”

This is especially true when you compare the M235i with other sporty four-doors available to buyers today. Better-performing rivals like the Audi S3 and even the Honda Civic Type R have lower starting prices than the M235i. Even the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35, which has a higher base than the M235i, is a better alternative. Even with a high overall score, it still lands at the bottom of Car and Driver’s segment rankings.